Dying to Write – December 2016

Those of you who have been reading the newsletter each month will know that we have been running a writing competition. I wrote the first paragraph and then asked readers to write the second and subsequent paragraphs.

We have had some terrific entries, and have drawn the competition to a close this month with a paragraph by Carolyn Mahony.

I have added a concluding chapter, and the whole story can be read below. If you think you have a good title for this short story, send it to newsletter@rachel-abbott.com to win a signed paperback of Kill Me Again

Here’s the story and thanks so much to all of you for your inspiration!

Opening paragraph

Friday the 13th was the day that my world fell apart. I hadn’t been expecting it. I was happily splashing a lovely stone coloured emulsion onto the rough plastered walls of my tiny cottage, singing along to an old Take That tune on the radio, thinking how lucky I was to have found this wonderful home in the middle of nowhere, when the old bell hanging in the tiny front porch clanged. Somebody was outside my door – but who? I didn’t think anybody knew that I had moved here, and suddenly I knew I was in danger.

Winner paragraph 1: Ryan Kaminski
Without making a sound, I crept toward the door while turning my attention to the nearest table. That was where I kept my gun. I hadn’t had to use it once in all my time out here, but that could all change now. I peered through the peephole and my heart plummeted to the bottom of my stomach. I unlocked the half dozen locks up and down the doorframe and opened the door. Almost everything about him was the same, from the badge on his belt, to the flakes of dandruff on the shoulders of his suit. The only difference was his eyes, they were puffy and his cheeks sagged, giving his face a tired and defeated look. Before I could form a single word, he looked me straight in the eye and said: ‘Julianne, there’s been an accident. The prison van transporting Danny drove off the road and crashed. He’s on the run. He’s on the run and we have every reason to believe he’s coming after you.’

Winner paragraph 2: Karen Turner
I stared at DCI Stanley McIvor. No, I stared through him, saw his mouth move, heard his words but it didn’t feel real. Like someone reading aloud from a book, turning the pages, weaving the story. But I wanted a happy ever after and I’d thought I had it right up until the untimely clanging of that bell. ‘Julianne,’ he said ‘Did you hear me? You don’t have long to think about this. You need to grab a bag and come with me. I can’t keep you safe here. It’s too risky. Julianne?’ So here we were again, older but really no wiser after all this time. I looked at McIvor and almost laughed at my naivety. Here I’d been merrily colouring in my refuge while Danny had prowled around a cage for eight years, eight long years with nothing to do but think. Well, I’d painted myself into a corner because suddenly that cage was open and the animal was loose, unpredictable, angry and wounded. The voice came again: ‘Please Julianne you must listen. There’s no time left. You know he’ll come. Pack quickly, I’ll wait for you.’ Then McIvor said as he turned to watch the road: ‘Better bring that gun.’

Winner paragraph 3: Carolyn Mahony
That word gun seemed to jolt me out of my inactivity. This place may have become my home these last few months – somewhere I thought I’d be safe – but no longer. I needed to get out of here – and fast. He was right, Danny would waste no time tracking me down, and with his computer hacking skills and contacts, it wouldn’t take him long. He might already have found me. I ran up the stairs, dragged my suitcase out of the eaves cupboard and started ramming my clothes and belongings into it as fast as I could. It didn’t take long. I didn’t have much. In less than five minutes, I was back downstairs. ‘I’m ready,’ I called, looking round for McIvor. He wasn’t there. The front door was open and, grabbing my handbag, I rushed towards it. ‘McIvor?’ I called, in a louder voice. My pace slowed when I got no response. The open door loomed suddenly large and menacing ahead of me. Where was McIvor?

Final paragraph from Rachel Abbott
It was so quiet here. The silence was something I had craved but now the front door lay open to a strange, ominous stillness. I felt the air change as a loud bang tore through it followed by the muffled sound of a body hitting the ground. McIvor hadn’t even cried out. Danny had always been the best marksman in the class and being locked way for all this time hadn’t blunted his edge. I knew that if I ran I would meet the same fate as McIvor. If I stayed he might risk a smile – enjoying the moment, watching me suffer. And it might give me a chance. He might ask me why I had been foolish enough to think I could ever outrun him and I’m not sure I would be able to answer. I had known from the start that no facility could keep Danny locked up forever. It would have taken a lapse of nothing more than seconds by the guards. Danny would have been waiting, watching, eyes cast down but far from unfocussed. I had watched him myself for hours in those years when I had believed he was someone else. A different person. As he stepped in to block out the light he was as familiar to me as a brother. I had one small chance.

“If you kill me you’ll never find your daughter. I hid her well, Danny. Without me, you’ll never find her.”

Without a word he smiled and raised his gun. He pointed it at my head just as the voice of a young girl drifted through the silence.

“Daddy, when are we going?”